Chef Jarad McCarroll Of Ocean Club St Barth’s: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Chef | by Martita Mestey | Authority Magazine | May, 2024

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Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you share with our readers a story about what inspired you to become a restauranteur or chef?

I’ve always been fascinated by creating food and cooking. One of my favorite childhood memories was watching Ainsley Hariot cook on Ready,Steady, Cook. Two of my biggest influences were my mom and grandmother, steeped in their Mauritian heritage infused the love and flavor into the dishes they’d create. Another inspiration was the ability to develop hands-on creations and was thrilled by any type of work that involved my hands. The idea of creating on a daily basis in the kitchen was really a dream for me.

Do you have a specific type of food that you focus on? What was it that first drew you to cooking that type of food? Can you share a story about that with us?

My culinary style is a combination of my training, seasonal ingredients and the inspiration surrounding me. I grew up classically trained, studying in Switzerland and refined through experiences in French based restaurants in London. Under the guidance of Nuno Mendes at Chiltern Firehouse, I was introduced to a more Mediterranean style. A pivotal 11-week stint in Copenhagen at Geranium, Relae and Amass further shaped my style. Thus my cuisine is a fusion of these diverse experiences which I like to classify as modern European. I love the process of dish creation- its evolution, the addition of texture and acidity, refinement, and constand reworking. Just as I am in a perpetual state of growth, so too are my dishes — ever-evolving reflections of my culinary journey.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that has happened to you since you became a chef? What was the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Looking back I can see the humor in some of these, but am not sure it was as funny at the time.

When I first began cooking in London, I was stationed at the Ritz Hotel. I was around 23 years old, working alongside a huge brigade of chefs, in the section that looked after the Rivoli Bar, making club sandwiches, burgers, chicken tandoori and wraps. One afternoon, my service had begun early, around 11 or 11:15 am and was clearly not set up and ready for the service — so that’s where the struggle began. A lot of things started going wrong, I didn’t have plates, my Mise en place (pre-preparations) were not finished so two sous chefs had to come and help me. This was back in the day when verbal abuse was still tolerated, and these sous chefs hated a reason to yell and scream (please note the sarcasm). So it started to get heated and the bollockings were free flowing. The kitchen happened to be down the corridor from the staff canteen, where the whole staff was having lunch. I was running like a chicken with his head cut off as I went to grab a ladle which was hanging just above the deep fryer, and I bumped it and it fell into the fryer and splashed oil everywhere. I smiled and thought to myself, “Oh when it rains it pours”. The sous chef caught this smile and his head literally skyrocketed off of his shoulders. “Who the F@E# are you to smile, you arrogant Piece of S$#%, GEt the F#@# out of the kitchen you Mother @##$#$” so loud that the staff came out of the canteen and watched me, it was literally the walk of shame. These types of situations don’t happen in my kitchens and are very far from my type of leadership, however it built grit, and as much as I wanted to walk away, I went outside, and came back to fight another battle. Nothing can break a man who knows where he is heading and who believes in his destination. I stayed for another 2 years, until I had built a strong enough foundation and mastered the basics.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?

I faced some of my toughest times at the Ritz. It was challenging as I was enduring verbal mistreatment and being treated poorly by people a lot younger than me. I felt like regardless of what section I was working on whether it was cooking the proteins or adding the garnish, the anger was directed at me. Looking back, those hard times were crucial for my growth and shaped the man I am today. The more success you want, the thicker skin you need to develop, and you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. No growth takes place in your comfort zone, and you learn little from success, but a lot from failure. This mindset shift has become integral to my journey, encapsulated in the belief that life isn’t about waiting for storms to pass, but rather learning to dance in the rain.

This depends on various factors, what is your product? Who is your target market?

When I’m creating a dish, I look at it from various factors and make sure certain criteria are met. First I start with a seasonal vegetable, and then use it multiple ways — whether it’s a puree, a crisp, or roasted. I then look to add acidity to the dish, either through a pickle or some type of citrus. This is a key step and should not be missed as it activates a different part of your palate and makes you want more. Next step is adding texture, a different mouth feel, this can come in the form of a roasted nut or seed or a crisp vegetable. The finale is finding the right protein to add to the dish. For me, my style is to work backwards and build around the beautiful vegetable instead of around the protein.

Personally, what is the ‘perfect meal for you’?

Ohhh, this is a tough question, it really depends on my mood and how I am feeling. I love a BBQ or in South Africa we call it a braai. All my kitchens are built around a wood fired grill. On Sundays, we invite friends over, cook some meat, fish and vegetables on an open fire, throw salad leaves paired with a great vinaigrette and add a starch (potato salad or roasted sweet potatoes), These are some of my best days — where we all sit around a table and enjoy family style.

Where does your inspiration for creating come from? Is there something that you turn to for a daily creativity boost?

There is so much inspiration all around us, but it mainly comes from the seasons. What is growing on the earth, how can I make it delicious?

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? What impact do you think this will have?

Yes, I’m currently working on an exciting project — opening a new Ocean Club in Montauk in June. It’s my first venture in the United States, situated within the iconic Montauk Yacht Club. The redesign, in collaboration with HBA Miami, transforms the space into a large, open-concept restaurant featuring a show kitchen, chef’s tables, and a prominent woodfire grill. I anticipate that the design and ambiance will pleasantly surprise patrons, offering a unique sensory experience. We’re focusing on creating an immersive environment, blending visual, olfactory, and culinary elements to elevate dining into an unforgettable experience. With an interactive space, including a DJ booth, I believe this venue will stand out as something truly special, and I’m excited to bring this unique vision to life.

What advice would you give to other chefs or restaurateurs to thrive and avoid burnout?

I love this question and it’s something I emphasize to my teams. Success is the progressive realization of a dream. It’s crucial to have a clear vision of where you’re headed. Success isn’t a destination; it’s the journey toward your dream. Take Ocean Club St Barths, for example; our goal is to be among the top 50 restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean. Every day, we strive toward that dream, finding fulfillment in the progress. We don’t need to wait until we achieve that to feel successful or to feel good. We wake up each day with this pursuit in mind and take pride in the steps we are taking towards it.

Set goals and work toward them daily. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Without goals, you’re just floating around aimlessly being influenced and pushed in any direction. Write down your dreams and take small steps daily to realize them. Remember, the journey is the reward, not the destination. Dream big, work hard, and savor every step forward.

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